How do you know when you are part of a movement? That is the question posed by Diana Rhoten at this year’s 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference, “Beyond Educational Technology.” As a veteran in this field, Rhoten remarked at the jam-packed conference that, “We have now arrived. We are a movement.”
Rhoten explained futher, “Five years ago, the amount of education professionals interested in using technology for innovative learning purposes fit in one small hotel meeting room. Today, now look at us. There are people all over the world working to make the promise of digital media and learning a reality.”
This year’s conference focused on scaling innovations in digital media and learning. John Seely Brown, the conference plenary speaker, brought attention to the need to not only scale the use of technology for learning, but to also scale learning systems and institutional structures. To do this, we need to think about the needs of the “entrepreneurial learner.”
What is the “Entrepreneurial Learner”?
In today’s fast moving information economy, Brown says we should consider the “half-life of a skill.” According to Brown, most skills today last about 5 years before they become irrelevant. So, education systems should move from a “fixed-asset” approach to a participatory approach that equips students to learn within a flow of information. In short, we should think of learning less like “moving on a steamship” and more like “white water rafting.”
What About the Systemic Constraints to the Entrepreneurial Learner?
The conference also featured students who are involved in projects that foster this type of learning. One group of students from Los Angeles Unified School District talked about their real-world experiences. As students who have participated in programs that foster “anytime learning,” they now have skills that help them navigate the information terrain for learning purposes. However, without wider institutional buy-in, these skills can actually get them in trouble.
One student mentioned his predicament. “If I have a question in class and the teacher is busy, I cannot just pull out my phone and do my own research. That would put me in serious trouble because we cannot use our phones for any purpose in class. But I know the answer is right in my pocket. It is a frustrating situation.”
Communicating DML to Build the Movement
The FrameWorks Institute is working with DML experts and advocates to help communicate this new conception of learning that enables the public and the education field to understand the wider benefits.
To this end, we have two new reports that speak directly to this need. One report, entitled “The Stories We Tell Ourselves: How DML is Communicated by Ed Reformers,” examines how learning and technology issues are understood by the wider education reform field. The other report, “Valuing Digital Media and Learning,” presents the findings of our prescriptive research that finds the use of two values, Pragmatism and Progress, to be particularly successful in building public support for DML programs.
We will be posting these new reports soon on our website. Stay tuned!